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LAUNCHING A SUSTAINBLE ONLINE BUSINESS WITH LAILLI MIRZA

9 questions with Lailli reveal why PETITE is *such* a thought-after brand.

LAUNCHING A SUSTAINBLE ONLINE BUSINESS WITH LAILLI MIRZA

Influencers often use the audience they grow over Instagram to start a business of their choice. While this is a very public and transparent move — the operations of the business highlight only the positives.

Read below an Exclusive Interview with Dubai’s renowned luxury fashion blogger – Lailli Mirza, who patiently gives us an honest breakdown on her brand, which also promotes conscious consumption.

Q: Tell us a bit about why being ‘ethically’ produced is important to ‘PETITE’?

A: ‘PETITE’ is a sustainable and ethical slow fashion brand. When creating the brand, I spent a lot of time on the brand ethos prior to design and production, it began solely as a personal project however grew into something bigger. I wanted to create a unique brand which not only produces high-quality clothing for women 5’4 and under but a brand which isn’t harmful to the environment and ensures no abuse or exploitation in the supply chain.
At ‘PETITE’, garment workers work at their will in a clean and safe environment which doesn’t put them in danger, a lot of our workers have been with us since the beginning of the launch. I launched during the peak of the pandemic in lockdown when many people were losing their jobs and were unable to sustain an income to provide for their families abroad, I wanted to create a business which not only provides a quality product but benefits my workers as much as possible.

Q: What aspect of the brand is sustainable, could you please break down the operations process and guide us on the garments are ethically produced?

A: From the launch of PETITE I wanted to ensure the brand was as sustainable and ethical as possible. Whilst being completely harmless to the environment isn’t possible, I strive to source sustainable and recycled fabrics locally for our clothing and packaging which ultimately helps reduce our overall CO2 footprint as well as provide a safe and secure working environment.

From the initial design to the packaging of the final product, every operational process is done in the house of PETITE. I’m proud to have a diverse growing team of individuals who produce our pieces on a made-to-order basis enabling minimal wastage with fabrics and cutting down on unnecessary production hours.
We engage in smaller, smarter production runs, creating batches of only what we need, without excess stock, aiming to waste as little material possible. We also repurpose unused fabrics for new collections.  We locally source fabrics and manufacture our products in Dubai whilst providing a positive and friendly work environment and housing for our employees.

I’ve always been fond of high-quality basics however finding PETITE pieces which fit me perfectly has always been an issue with designer brands. I’ve never enjoyed purchasing fast fashion because ultimately the quality of the garment fails me and ends up being donated, if not thrown away. The concept of fast fashion never appealed to me.
Whilst being able to wear the season’s latest trends instantly for less than $100 may be what many want, inevitably it’s money wasted once it ends up being thrown away and unavoidably supports inhumane production and manufacturing.

Q: Being a luxury Fashion Influencer, did you receive much flak on creating an ‘ethical’ brand?

A: Since the pandemic started I believe people are more interested in learning about ethical and sustainable fashion. With more resources available, we’re able to understand that something “ethically produced” or “sustainable” doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t of “high quality” or “luxury” standard. I’ve only received praises for starting an economically friendly brand, which I’m grateful for and I’m happy to see many more fashion brands introducing sustainable lines and products, such as Hermes and their introduction of “Vegan mushroom leather”.

Q: How did you combat comments or concerns?

A: The only issue we have with slow fashion is lead times. Production can take up two weeks, depending on the demand which has lead us to reduce the amount of orders we accept every drop. We work on controlled clothing drops every month to ensure employees are not working overtime and customers are able to receive their products within the given time frame. The wait can be a nuisance as we’re in an age where we want orders almost immediately, however the slow fashion process is a more humane and practical stance to reducing wastage and inhumane practices.

Q: One luxury house you see ‘Petite The Brand’ collaborating with?

A: I don’t foresee any luxury collaborations in the future however I do hope to be able to stock PETITE on leading luxury fashion platforms such as Farfetch & Net-A-Porter which have dedicated pages to sustainable brands.

Q: What is the best part of your brand? Narrate us your story!

A: PETITE started as a personal passion project, I’ve always been fond of buying luxury fashion however the amount of wastage that came out of the alteration process would always hurt. *sighs* I noticed a gap in the market for women and men, like myself, who wanted premium quality clothing in petite sizes. I started by creating clothing for myself, which gained interest online and lead me to create my brand. I only create pieces which I want to wear, whether it’s classics or seasonal trend pieces. We offer a range of sizes from UK 2 – UK 18 in “Petite Standard Sizing”, as well as offer the option to customize your pieces if you’re not “petite”. I wanted to create a brand which offers high quality, well-tailored pieces for men and women that struggle to find clothes, like myself, that aren’t premium priced. I want my customers to feel empowered and not embarrassed by their height, this is something I was constantly bullied by growing up and struggled with. I want people to feel comfortable knowing they’ve purchased a quality product that they won’t have to alter, which will fit them perfectly and blend seamlessly into their existing wardrobe. We’re working on a collection of “Essential” pieces, which I believe are key pieces to have, as well as seasonal trend pieces, whilst focusing on seamlessly creating a cohesive wardrobe without the need to over purchase.

Q: Last but not the least – you are known for being vocal about your choices over Instagram. What would you like your audience to know about being a luxury online Influencer and a full-time Business Owner?

A: You know what? Being an “Influencer” is simply a tool I use to promote my business and help it grow. I prefer the term content creator as the content I create is light-hearted and carefree. I enjoy talking about luxury fashion online because when I started out my feed was flooded with “high street hauls” and heavily promoted fast fashion. Whilst I may come across as arrogant or obnoxious for promoting luxury brands, I believe it’s much safer to promote products which will hold their value and be sustainable long term due to the quality and craftsmanship in comparison to fast fashion brands. Being an “influencer” is a powerful position which I try not to abuse and whilst I aim to educate my followers on the benefits of purchasing luxury in comparison to fast fashion, I don’t impose my opinions on anyone to avoid coming across as entitled for being able to afford “luxury fashion”.

I don’t believe price tags necessarily dictate whether a product is good quality however educating oneself on fabrics and craftsmanship is something I strongly propose and appreciate so much more now when buying clothes. Although it’s a challenge to overlook all business activities whilst having to constantly engage with followers online and keep up with updated content, I’ve created a schedule which allows me to prioritize different aspects in my life, however both “careers” often overlap and I’m slowly opening up my personal working life to my followers online to give them an insight into what it’s like to run my own business. I would be lying if I said it isn’t a struggle to this alone however I’m fortunate to have a strong team by my side behind the scenes.

More power to mindful business!

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